Thursday, 27 February 2014

Reading The Shock of The Fall

Have you not heard of The Shock of The Fall? Imagine me shaking my head at you. It's a relatively new book by Nathan Filer and it's the winner of the Costa book of the year. The woman across the aisle on the plane was also reading it, so you know it's gonna be good.

The Shock of The Fall is about a boy named Matthew who loses his only brother at an early age (don't be shocked, you find out about it within the first few pages) and as he grows up into a young man he gets schizophrenia. Yeah, it's just as heartbreaking as it sounds. The story is told when Matthew has access to a computer at the day center which he visits and we find out about his childhood, the grief felt by the family and the coping with the loss of his brother through flashbacks.

Forget how well-written and clever it is (but I assure you, it is) and just allow yourself to drown in feelings during the scenes that Nathan Filer writes. When he describes how the previously four, now three, members of the family sit on the couch in the front room without their eldest son for the first time, you really feel it. Mental illness is a tough subject to write about but this account felt so genuine and just as grimy as the reality often is. You kind of want Matthew to one day wake up and for his schizophrenia to be gone, but that is not how it works. Matthew and his brother Simon becomes people that you care about, whether you want it or not. I'd recommend this book to lots of people. I'd also recommend you to read the little Q&A with Nathan Filer at the back of the book (if there is one in your copy) because it's very interesting.

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